Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Power of Walmart

The weather here has been less than stellar for most of the summer. On one hand it means we don't get to enjoy the pool as much and my tan is not nearly as dark as it usually is at this time of year. On the other hand I have been able to get a jump on my Autumn organizing a bit early.

Yes I don't do spring cleaning...I do Autumn organizing. Every September as the air adopts that familiar crispness and the leaves begin to change I am seized by the need to reorganize my house. Since it has felt like Autumn for the last few weeks I have been getting the itch to clean out closets and organize drawers!

This weekend I decided I needed some more clear bins for the storage room in the basement. An ongoing project has been getting all of our possessions into clear, waterproof bins and out of moving boxes. Let's not even begin to discuss the fact we have lived here for 3 years and still have things in moving boxes - my defence will always be: We bought a fixer upper!

So, off I went to Walmart. Please don't attack me for this. I live in a small town and my shopping options are limited. We don't have the luxury of Ikea or any other big housewares stores but we do have a HUGE Walmart just 5 minutes away.

I got the bins I wanted, kind of. They didn't have the size I wanted but they did have the same style so I grabbed 8 of them, put them in my cart and headed to the electronics department to see if I could find sleeves for cds and dvds. Would you believe this is something Walmart doesn't carry?

As I was at the very back of the store looking at dvds suddenly...the power went out. The lights all went off and we were all standing in a big, dark, silent Walmart. Everyone stood there in stunned silence - really! After about 10 seconds the murmuring started. We were all waiting for the lights to come back on so we could carry on shopping in our suburban comfort.

Now let me say this about Canadians. We don't loot. We don't riot. And, we certainly don't panic. Everyone in the store just calmly made their way to the front of the store where the big windows provided all of the light us hearty Canadians need!

Thrown together by circumstance the scene took on a festive feeling. Adults making faces for small children who were afraid of the thunder - it turns out a huge storm had knocked out the power for a very large area of town - people suggesting we hit the snack aisle, and mostly laughing as we compared this to the movie Where the Heart is.

People were abandoning their carts and making their way out of the store. I don't blame them to be honest. But I had come all the way here for ONE thing! Well, 8 of the same thing. I was not leaving empty handed! I decided to wait it out and hopefully power would be restored soon. So I waited. And Waited. And waited.

A little girl in a cart behind me started crying. The thunder was very loud and she was scared. Heck I was starting to get a bit edgy myself! What if it was hours before the power came back on? The poor little girl had one thing too: a dvd of Nemo. Her mom and I had the same look on our faces. The look that says 'I did not drag myself here on a Sunday morning to leave without what I came for!'.

A few minutes later a Walmart employee comes to the crowd gathered by the door and says in a very matter-of-fact tone 'The tills are still working'. Huh?? Huh?? We have all been standing here waiting and the tills have been working all along?!!?!!? That's when it got a bit nutty. Everyone just wanted to get out of there! You see, we Canadians will always make the best of a bad situation - to be honest I am surprised we hadn't started singing camp songs by this point! But given a chance to get out of a bad situation it is every Canadian for them self!

The charge to the cash desks looked a bit like how I imagine the running of the bulls would, complete with a blue-vested Walmart employee rushing to get out of the way while still tempting the carts to run her over!

Yes, the entire town was blacked out, no traffic lights, all the stores were closed, the rain was coming down in sheets, the thunder sounded like bombs going off and yet, Walmart had tills and ATM machines running on back up power.

I guess Walmart has one policy - Dont let them leave empty handed. Even in the dark with an entire town shut down by a storm, Walmart was unwilling to lose a single customer. I got in line and quickly got my clear storage bins scanned and paid for - heck I even got some cash as well! Amazing eh! That's the power of Walmart!

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